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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENTRSS

© Bernard Plossu / Courtesy of the Multimedia Art Museum

From Big Sur to Beijing

by Joy Neumeyer at 12/03/2012 20:14

The 9th International Photography Month in Moscow: Photobiennale 2012

Until July 7 at various venues; for a full schedule, see www.mamm-mdf.ru/en/

Little Red Riding Hood, misbehaving legislators and the American West are among the subjects of the ninth International Photobiennale, which kicks into high gear this month. Held in Moscow every other year, the fest brings in top photographers from around the globe for several weeks of exhibitions and lectures across town. Prominent photographers on show include American street photographer William Klein, French surrealist Sarah Moon and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.

‘Morgan’ by Sarah Moon, 1983

© Sarah Moon / Courtesy of the Multimedia Art Museum

‘Morgan’ by Sarah Moon, 1983

Photographs from the United States dominate this year’s program, as part of the U.S. Embassy’s “American Seasons in Russia.” One of the biggest names is William Klein, a longtime Vogue photographer renowned for pioneering the practice of taking fashion models out of the studio and into the street. Heralded as one of the finest albums of the post-war period, Klein’s “New York” shows everyday people grocery shopping, proselytizing and hustling on the city streets.

French photow grapher Bernard Plossu explores America’s other coast. “For many years I traveled across southwest America in search of the landscapes from the Westerns of my childhood, walking in the steps of the chief apaches Cochise and Geronimo,” Plossu wrote in an introduction for the exhibition. From 1966 to 1985, Plossu’s travels took him to the Arizona desert, California’s Big Sur and the nascent hippie movement in San Francisco, where he snapped countercultural icons including Joan Baez and Allen Ginsburg.

Another exhibition reveals the midcentury American underbelly with pictures from the archives of the Los Angeles Police Department. The photos range from the 1920s to the ’50s, when photography became a central part of police work. Many of the atmospheric shots reflect the noir style that dominated Hollywood in the 1940s and ’50s—and in fact, many of the photographers moonlighted by filming actors for movie studios.

Liu Bolin’s ‘Unify the Thought to Promote Education More’

© Courtesy of Liu Bolin / Galerie Paris-Beijing

Liu Bolin’s ‘Unify the Thought to Promote Education More’

 

Other exhibitions opening this month blur the boundaries between photography and performance art. In Liu Bolin’s “Urban Camouflage,” the Chinese artist ‘vanishes’ into his pictures of newspapers stands, telephone booths and other urban spots by covering himself in paint. To get the perfect shot, Bolin often stands still for up to 10 hours, unnoticed by passersby. Bolin says his work is an act of protest against the Chinese government, which shut down his studio in 2005.

In a more fantastical vein, French photographer Sarah Moon presents her surrealist interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood, which turns the heroine’s signature cloak black. Moon’s black and white photos turn the familiar fairy tale into a gothic nightmare.

Perhaps the most unusual offering is from Austrian art group G.R.A.M., who photographed reenactments of parliamentary squabbles. The shots are based on real incidents across Europe and Asia when irate deputies broke out into yelling and fistfights. In the group’s restaging, emotional poses and dramatic shadows give the feeling of Baroque religious paintings.

Anticipated exhibitions later this spring include Doug Menuez’s shots of Steve Jobs and Silicon Valley in the ’80s and ’90s, opening March 30, and photos by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei from his time in New York, which opens April 20 at the Multimedia Art Museum.

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